Most experts say they use a good quality medical mask such as an N95 or KF94 when flying. If you don’t have one, double masking is recommended. For a vaccinated person, the risk of briefly removing a mask to eat or drink during a flight is small, but it is better to keep it on for as long as possible. The CDC says that for anyone who has not been vaccinated, including children, it is best to avoid flying.
Dr. Bromage said he had recently traveled by plane and briefly removed his mask to have a drink, but left it for most of the flight. He said he’d rather take off his mask to eat if he knew the people next to him had been vaccinated. He said he would be more concerned if the person next to him didn’t seem to be caring about Covid precautions or was wearing the mask under their nose. “If there is a random person next to you, especially a talkative person, I would keep the mask on,” he said.
How safe are buses, subways and trains for vaccinated people?
Most buses, trains, and subways all still have to wear a mask, which lowers the risk. While vaccinated people are well protected, the risk of virus exposure increases the longer the journey takes and the more crowded the train or bus is. For many people, using public transport is essential to get to work or school, and wearing a well-fitting medical mask or double mask is recommended. If public transport is optional, deciding whether to ride should take into account local vaccination rates and whether the numbers of cases are increasing.
Can I hug and visit older relatives? What about unvaccinated children?
While it is generally considered safe for vaccinated people to hug each other and hang out unmasked, parents of unvaccinated children need to consider more risks, especially when visiting older relatives. In communities with low case numbers and high vaccination rates, unvaccinated children from a single household are generally considered safe to spend time with vaccinated grandparents. But with the spread of the Delta variant and the return of children to school, the risk of close contact also increases for elderly or immunocompromised people, who are more prone to complications from Covid-19, even if they are vaccinated.
If families are planning to visit a high-risk relative, it is a good idea to minimize other exposures, avoid restaurants, or work out at the gym the week before the visit. While the risk of Covid-19 spreading from a vaccinated person is small, vaccinated grandparents should also reduce their personal exposure when spending time with unvaccinated children.
“At the time, I did not mask myself indoors with my eighty-year-old parents because I am still very careful about wearing masks in public places,” said Dr. Huffman, the aerosol scientist. “But if I had more interactions that would increase my overall risk of exposure, I would strongly consider masking myself indoors with people at risk.”
Rapid home tests are an extra precaution when visiting grandparents or an immunocompromised family member. Take a test a few days before the visit, as well as on the day of the visit. Find out more about the home test here.
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